Last month, Cedar Lane Elementary and Sugarland Elementary were the recipients of grants to help support their school garden efforts. These grants were made possible by the Northern Virginia Dietetic Association (NVAND). Each school received $100 from the organization.
These schools were selected from 12 applicants in the Northern Virginia region. Each school submitted a detailed application where they had to describe the educational purpose and goals of their gardens while also discussing the impact and outcomes their garden had on the students and community. Each application was ranked and voted on by board members of NVAND.
Sugarland uses their school garden to help students learn the role they play in both the community and as health ambassadors. The garden coordinators help students understand that growing nutritious foods can be done regardless of ones income level. They focus on inquiry-based learning and real world problem solving so that students can understand how gardens directly relate to their lives; such as the garden to cafeteria initiative. They develop consistent schedules for the garden so that each grade has responsibilities relating to the project.
Cedar Lane currently uses their garden to help their Autism classes learn curricular skills as well as career and working behaviors through garden-based activities. They able to grow a variety of produce items which helps students become exposed to new foods. Students learn the importance of following directions and reading recipes, conversational skills and money counting. The Cafeteria Manager at Cedar Lane assists students with garden-based recipes and taste tests. Cedar Lane also uses the harvest from their garden to host annual farmer’s markets at the school. This allows the students to understand the background of having a business.